The Joy of Subletting

Real estate, Money

This article originally appeared on Zillow

For many tenants, the demands of family, career or military responsibilities make it difficult to stick to a strict one-year lease agreement — making a sublease or sublet an attractive alternative to paying the balance of the agreement.

A sublease is an “assignment” of the original lease agreement terms to a third-party who was not involved in the original agreement. This means that the subletter is not only responsible for the duties and obligations listed in the lease, but enjoys the rights and amenities as well. Accordingly, it is almost always necessary to run this plan past the landlord.

Here’s how to manage a subletting arrangement legally and effectively.

Notify your landlord and get them onboard

Nearly all residential leases contain a clause pertaining to subleasing. Some forbid it outright. Others take a more liberal approach and allow tenants to freely sublease. Most common, however, is the middle-of-the-road option that gives the landlord final say over whether a sublease arrangement is allowed.

In most scenarios, signed written consent will be required from the landlord prior to subleasing with a third-party. Legally speaking, this protects the landlord from damage caused by unknown, unapproved subletters, and also protects the tenant from an attempt by the landlord to avoid damage liability by a subletter he “knew nothing about.”

Some states forbid a landlord from arbitrarily or unreasonably withholding consent to a sublease. If you’re facing an uphill battle with a landlord who is refusing to allow a sublease to a great candidate, a landlord and tenant lawyer may be able to help.

Understand the legal relationship and obligations

As a tenant, it may seem like you can wipe your hands of the lease agreement once a sublessee is securely in place. After all, damage or late rent is on them — right?

Probably not.

. . .

Read the full guide on Zillow to learn about:

  • The concept of “privity of contract”
  • Who is responsible for damages, and how you protect yourself
  • How a sublease helps reduce risk
  • Collecting and storing security deposits